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Christianity and children

(86 Posts)
purpleangel17 Thu 23-Nov-17 21:26:26

Interested to hear the approach other Christians take to sharing their faith with their children.

I tell the children what I believe but I don't present it as absolute truth, I tell them different people believe different things and they can make their own mind up when they are older.

Do you do the same or do you present it as truth and say others are 'misguided?

My elder questions a lot but is respectful. My younger has recently taken to asking lots of other people what their religion is! I think they both believe but they have questions which is normal.

BackforGood Thu 23-Nov-17 23:37:56

Same as you - my dc have grown up coming to Church with me, but, especially in the teenage group, they are encourage to question, to debate, to formulate their own thoughts, just the same as they are at home.

GingerIvy Thu 23-Nov-17 23:44:00

Same as you. We don't go to church as my dcs can't cope with it due to SNs.

speakout Fri 24-Nov-17 06:39:17

My children had a lot of indoctrination at school, so as an atheist I had to balance things up at school.
I taught them to respect the views of others but that religion and gods deserve no respect and to question everything they were told.

purpleangel17 Fri 24-Nov-17 08:51:04

We don't go to church every week, maybe once a month. The kids are reluctant to come (think it is boring and don't want to try kids' club) and they are too young for me to leave them home alone while I go. So we have a compromise situation at the moment but I really hope they will agree to try the kids club and might like it. It is a new church for us and they found the kids club at the last church boring - I have said this might be different.

purpleangel17 Fri 24-Nov-17 08:54:46

speakout - so basically you said school are wrong?

It is interesting that the Christians who have responded have stopped short of saying those who don't believe are wrong. But atheist parents are happy to say all religions are wrong? Isn't that another kind of indoctrination? I agree with teaching to question (Jesus taught the same) but not with branding a religious belief or lack of belief as 'wrong'.

Mine came to church when they were tiny and then went to Sunday School when they were a bit older. I read them bible stories and we sang songs at home. From a young age they were encouraged to question and they all picked up basic philosophy from the sorts of conversations we had at the dinner table. There was an amazing youth leader at one church who encouraged debate and discussion and exploration of ideas around faith and politics and the world. He did such a lot for my children when they were teenagers.

I am immensely proud of the son who went on to study philosophy at uni and would go to Christian Union debates asking lots of questions about how they knew stuff and the nature of truth. I had taught him well!

speakout Fri 24-Nov-17 20:12:31

purpleangel17 I say the school are wrong to indoctrinate children, yes.

Religion should have no place in school.

ZigZagandDustin Fri 24-Nov-17 21:18:43

I think to indoctrinate there needs to be something to indoctrinate. Atheist believes in nothing so you can't indoctrinate nothing.

Anyway, DH is religious and I'm atheist. dS has started primary and though it's a catholic I've been a bit surprised how hard core it is religion wise. We had a big discussion about it and DH put forward the case for religion being a good moral grounding for the kids regardless of my (non) belief and our agreement to educate them on all the facts and let them decide when they're older.

So for now I'm treating God like Santa as I feel it's helpful to the kids as a compass. It has more impact to tell them not to steal because God is watching over us and has made a commandment about it than simply saying 'because it's bad'. Also explanations of death etc are easier to frame and answer in a way they can understand. I've always believed that religion solely exists as a communication tool for humans so I can be on board with this. As they become old enough to be respectful of people's beliefs we'll debate properly and educate them on differing beliefs and atheism.

So that's how we're handling God in our house right now. For me it's Santa. Something nice to believe that benefits my kids. And let's them get involved in school and the community. There's time enough when they're older to give them the more honest answers (from me).

purpleangel17 Fri 24-Nov-17 21:35:20

It is still a belief though - a belief there is no God. Surely reporting any belief (ie something that can't be proven either way) as fact could be seen as indoctrination?

I would imagine it would be confusing if eventually one parent said one thing was true and the other another. My instinct is it is best to let children decide what they believe.

speakout Fri 24-Nov-17 21:43:11

Atheism has no doctrine.

It is a lack pf faith. There is nothing to teach.

The burden of proof is on those making the claim.

PhilODox Fri 24-Nov-17 21:46:33

Don't be ridiculous purpleangel, atheism is not a belief. Some religions are atheist. Most atheists do not believe in a deity, and shun religion of all creeds.

PhilODox Fri 24-Nov-17 21:50:51

And zigzag, I have taught my children that stealing is wrong because it is wrong in 99% of cases. I think it's far more important for them to not want to steal, and to learn self-control than to do it because someone is watching and will judge them for it.

purpleangel17 Fri 24-Nov-17 22:08:51

Well, we will have to agree to disagree on that. Still interested to hear what other Christians do as per my original post.

missmapp Fri 24-Nov-17 22:21:29

I encourage my two to ask questions , debate and follow their own views. They both come to church most weeks but I never force them. Dh doesn't come so if they don't fancy it one week they just stay with him. Ds1 went to confirmation classes last year and then came home with lots of questions and thought s. He went on to be confirmed but it was very much because he wanted to grow his faith. If ds2 doesn't want to, that is his decision and i won't persuade him otherwisr.

Misspilly88 Fri 24-Nov-17 22:25:26

I'm an atheist but when I talk about it with my children I say 'some people believe xyz, mummy and daddy don't, what do you think?' I've currently got a Christian vegan 3yo smile not sure it'll last long, he loves cheese too much. I think you're doing the right thing

SadSongsAndWaltzes Fri 24-Nov-17 22:34:30

Interesting, I describe myself as an agnostic - I believe we can never know the truth, therefore I have no faith in any higher being, as I just don't know. I've always thought that to describe yourself as an atheist, that means to have a definite belief that there is no God, which to me is a faith. Is that not other people's understanding of the terms?

I teach my children that people believe different things, no one knows which is right, but that I don't believe any one in particular. I ask them what they think, and don't tell them they're wrong if they believe things I don't. They are very young though (2 and 4) so haven't got very deep yet!

wiltingfast Fri 24-Nov-17 22:35:47

I think, if you want your children to believe, you have to bring them up with that as a normal world view. you cannot rely on them finding it in their own. So if you want them to believe you must actually indoctrinate.

So, whether church is boring is just not relevant. Brushing your teeth is boring too. So's laundry. Still do it though.

Personally, I do not believe, but I want my children to know about religion as it is so massive in world cultures and human reality whether I like it or not. Plus the rituals are extremely culturally valuable.

dlnex Fri 24-Nov-17 22:37:52

Agree you are doing the right thing. I have a poor record of attending to worship, DD 13 went to church primary, but not baptized. DD now tells me we are going (to church) she just seems to accept her faith at moment, great RE teaching at secondary. I wish she had been baptized as I think she would consider confirmation,

speakout Fri 24-Nov-17 22:40:45

to describe yourself as an atheist, that means to have a definite belief that there is no God,

No. Atheism at its simplest is the lack of belief in god, that may be because an individual has never been exposed to the idea, such as a baby, or it can mean the rejection of the idea of a deity.

Athesim does not require a belief in anything.

SheepyFun Fri 24-Nov-17 22:52:28

dlnex you (or your daughter) can be baptised at any age; we go to church most weeks, but haven't had DD baptised; we'd like her to choose when she's old enough. The church we go to baptises both children and adults.

Mishappening Fri 24-Nov-17 22:58:18

I think that the details of the crucifixion are not for the ears of children. I had a bellyful of it at school and was terrified by the illustrations in the school chapel.

Please don't put them through that. If it was unconnected with a religious faith, you would not subject them to these gory details - if it were a bombing and there were pics of bloody corpses, would you show those to them?

It is so so grim.

Parker231 Fri 24-Nov-17 22:58:40

We explained to DC’s that the Bible’s was a book of stories, some people think they are real but we don’t. They have traveled widely so experienced religion in different countries and enjoy the history and cultures of churches. Mosques, synagogue etc but like DH and I have no belief in any God.

PhilODox Sat 25-Nov-17 00:23:27

The word atheism means "without God"; atheists do not have a god, they do not believe in anything; they have no faith.

Re your problem with DC not wanting to go to church- have you googled some other churches? (Unless you're an unusual denomination). There's a church near me that has "Messy church" which is basically playing and craft, with a Christian theme. Would something like that interest them?
My parents always presented religion as what some people believe in... because they were each of different religions. It would have been very hard for either to have indoctrinated us as one of them must have been 'wrong' in their beliefs. (V different religions, not like Judaism and Christianity would have had similar core stories)

dlnex Sat 25-Nov-17 08:21:12

sheepy thanks - I am baptised and confirmed, very traditional anglican upbringing in very traditional elderly church -the sort of place where dd should have been baptised at six weeks and not being bought up by a single parent. I am not brave about stepping out into churches that don't look like that, the whole guitars and shouty preaching feels uncomfortable.

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